How resilience and tenacity can help you secure success Stellenbosch Business School Skip to main content
For many, the road to reaching dreams is lengthy, challenging, and overwhelming for several reasons.

But no matter how difficult the pursuit may be, the result can be rewarding as long as you focus on the bigger picture.

To build focus, you have to use the right tools that will sustain you throughout your journey. Resilience and tenacity are exactly the foundation you need to secure success. This is a statement that 34-year old accountant Mekupi Kambatuku can attest to.

Her dream was to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management and Administration (PGDip BMA) and an MBA at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). She experienced financial struggles, her grandmother’s passing, and the global pandemic. But despite these challenges, she was resilient and tenacious in the pursuit of her dream.

Attainable dreams

Mekupi knew that there was a life beyond the borders of her small village in eastern Namibia. She also understood that the “real world” she has only experienced through a television screen could be accessible if she dreamed enough and worked hard to attain it.

After obtaining a Business Administration degree from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), Mekupi decided to pursue an MBA at the University of Stellenbosch Business School due to its multifaceted qualification and the university’s sound reputation.

An MBA degree equips you with more than just technical skills. It is mandatory in leadership roles; it’s a transformation programme.

A cycle of challenges

Due to her knack for research and attending an information session held in Windhoek in 2010, she quickly realised that she might not be able to apply for the MBA. Because, at the time, she didn’t have the working experience required.

She adds, “I postponed my studies for a while, and in 2017 I applied for the PGDip BMA as a stepping stone to enrol for my MBA degree. My plans for completing an MBA stems from my goal of becoming a mentor. As the world strives for women inclusion and gender equality, I aspire to serve on a board and become a CEO one day.”

In addition to lack of experience, there was also the financial challenge that persisted post-graduation. She applied for funding everywhere, but she didn’t lose hope, and that mindset paid off when one of the banks approved her loan to register and participate in the programme. She also gained financial assistance from her employer.

I had to make major cuts on my monthly expenditures. I applied for another personal loan, and family members assisted with the little they could. I believe in delayed gratification, and I have always told myself not to be afraid of losing something for the greater good.

Mekupi sold her car at the beginning of 2020 to register for her final year after sacrificing everything else she possibly could. “I knew I would replace the car eventually, but the hardest part about it was explaining to my daughter why we are selling our car and resorting to taking a taxi. Through the MBA years, I had to take the 23-hour bus trip to Cape Town, which meant I required more leave days, and I had little money to spend on anything during block week. Luckily, USB provided us with tea breaks and lunch, so that went a long way.”

The pandemic hit the world, leading us to unprecedented and tragic events. The world went into lockdown, and people were confined to their homes. All of this presented a new and unfamiliar territory to navigate. Mekupi says the insights she gained through the Covid-19 class discussions enabled her to transition into our new reality.

The business school provided us access to the world’s best information centres, which allowed us to have real-time, factual information about the pandemic. As an important skill emphasised throughout the MBA, adaptability became so critical during the pandemic. We reviewed different possible scenarios on the pandemic by using different models we learned during the classes.

With all these tools the MBA provided, we were able to adapt to the uncertainties which the pandemic presented. More importantly, the USB staff worked tirelessly to ensure that we all had the best possible experience as we moved to remote learning. We also had to do more reflective sessions to ensure that we were dealing with the impact of the pandemic in a positive manner.

The pandemic has proven how fast our world can change. The fast-paced, changing world necessitates learning. Continuous learning ensures that we can adapt to life changes and challenges, learning keeps you updated on the world’s current trends, and it also ensures that we continue to grow both on a technical and personal level.

The Namibian experienced a loss that greatly affected her mental well-being. Her grandmother, who raised her, passed away in 2019 as she was starting her MBA journey. “My beautiful grandmother told me repeatedly that her greatest wish for me was to be educated. I saw girls become women way too early before they achieved any qualification past the high school level. Through all these, I knew I wanted to do better; I owed it to my dad because now independent Namibia provided more opportunities for girls like me. I owed it to my grandmother and to the girls from my village to show them that it is possible to achieve an MBA irrespective of your background.”

Silver linings that make the journey worthwhile

When faced with difficulties, we’re often inclined to throw in the towel. But when we push on, we’ll find the silver linings we deserve. After all the challenges Mekupi experienced, she finally saw the rainbow displayed beyond the storm. She cites the kindness and support of people she met on the journey as the biggest motivator to push through the hardships.

I was blessed with meeting amazing people in Cape Town. Programme coordinator Mireille de Villiers-Kleynhans was so kind and trusting when she opened her home and offered me to come to stay with her during block week. Rushana Hartnick, also an MBA alumnus of the business school, invited me to stay at her home with her family on several occasions. The kindness of these two ladies made my dream possible.

Furthermore, Mekupi explains that the leadership development module reflective sessions assisted her growth and drive. “The leadership development module forced me to be vulnerable, reflect on my traumas and build on my attributes as an authentic leader. I became very good at time management, planning, and monitoring progress all the way through.”

“The exposure to systems and cultures on an international level added to the most transformational experience I have had. After completing my MBA degree, I can attest that it is transformative, fulfilling and an authentic programme. And with the support of my loved ones and family support, I have reached the light at the end of the tunnel – I have achieved my goal. ”

Inspiring a new generation

Through her journey, Mekupi realised the critical need to give back and uplift her community. So, she and a few friends founded a mentorship foundation called GATE – Girls Aspiring To Excel. The foundation aims to mentor, guide and inspire young girls from the village to ensure that they reach their goals and strive to be the best version of themselves. It also intends to collect and distribute donations to boarding schools through various initiatives.

The one thing that brings me joy when talking about the foundation has been wanting to be of service to others through mentorship programmes. It has been a great pleasure to know that my life has touched or encouraged other people around me, both young and old. I would like to reach more people through GATE.

Mekupi also has her eyes set on lecturing part-time. “I want to share my knowledge with the community, reaching the audience that may require mentoring. Today, I am where I am because of the business school taking a chance on a village girl like me. Now I owe it to all the other village girls behind me. Inspired to inspire.”

We also have a range of online postgraduate diplomas, including a postgraduate diploma in Nigeria or postgraduate diploma in Kenya, offered through the University of Stellenbosch Business School. The following are also options:

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